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Dislocations are joint injuries that force the ends of your bones out of position. The cause is often a fall or a blow, sometimes from playing a contact sport. You can dislocate your ankles, knees, shoulders, hips, elbows and jaw. You can also dislocate your finger and toe joints. Dislocated joints often are swollen, very painful and visibly out of place. You may not be able to move it.

A dislocated joint is an emergency. If you have one, seek medical attention. Treatment depends on which joint you dislocate and the severity of the injury. It might include manipulations to reposition your bones, medicine, a splint or sling, and rehabilitation. When properly repositioned, a joint will usually function and move normally again in a few weeks. Once you dislocate a shoulder or kneecap, you are more likely to dislocate it again. Wearing protective gear during sports may help prevent dislocations.

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.

At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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